December 10, 2020 – U.S. military forces partnered with Australian and Canadian military units for a Fleet Synthetic Training – Joint Exercise (FST-J) that began Dec. 3.
The week-long virtual exercise included participants from the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Army; as well as units from the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force. These units are located throughout the United States, Japan, Canada, and Australia.
“Exercises like FST-J strengthen the teamwork between our U.S., allied, and partner militaries,” said Rear Adm. Will Pennington, commander, Carrier Strike Group Five. “The complex virtual scenarios probe future security challenges in the Indo-Pacific and allow us to leverage the collective experience of our Joint and international team. Smart technology reduces costs and expands the problem set that we examine. It was especially useful this year in reducing risk within the COVID-19 environment.”
The synthetic nature of FST-J provides significant team-building between units and staffs in a dynamic environment without the need to get ships and Sailors underway. The training also reduces the complex logistics involved in live exercises and allows for intricate and demanding tactical and operational scenarios. Limiting factors in live exercises such as weather conditions, range restrictions, and opposing force sizes are fully customizable in the virtual space, allowing teams to focus on specific challenges throughout the training.
“To be able to fight an Australian warship to her full potential in a synthetic domain alongside our American and Canadian partners is a fantastic way to refine our shared skills and complementary capabilities,” said Capt. Pete Bartlett, director, Royal Australian Navy’s Fleet Force Generation directorate. “HMAS Parramatta embedded in the USS America Expeditionary Strike Group earlier this year, and it is events such as FST-J which enabled the RAN to seamlessly integrate into U.S. Navy Strike Groups.”
Due to its virtual nature, FST-J is particularly well-suited for training in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“FST-J provides a valuable opportunity to build and test the tactical expertise of geographically separated units during the challenges presented by COVID-19,” said Commodore Richard Feltham, Commander Canadian Fleet Atlantic. “A virtual exercise such as FST-J is the perfect way to strengthen our commitment to upholding global security and prosperity while keeping our military and community safe and healthy.”
Tactical Training Group Pacific (TTGP), located in San Diego, is facilitating the FST-J, providing the virtual architecture and distributed training environment to participants.